Keys. We all have them and we all need them. They grant us access to many different things so why not open new doors with them and make them more functional?
A pencil is a maker's best friend. They write on many different surfaces, they're erasable, and you can use them upside-down unlike markers and pens. The bad news is that they get dull, the tip breaks and you need to sharpen them. Finding the one you just had in your hand a second ago is a different story. (Check behind your ear)
This project is very simple and can be completed within an afternoon.
Things I used for this project:
- Bandsaw - https://amzn.to/2HsJ28J (handsaw or coping saw to achieve similar results)
- Walnut wood
- Drill press (handheld drill would just as well)
- Pencil sharpener - https://amzn.to/2JD0bNM
- 5 minute epoxy - https://amzn.to/2HtG7fZ
- Wood glue - https://amzn.to/2HuGdnG
Also here's a link to the video that's posted above. It will open it in a new tab and you can follow along on how I made this project.
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Step 1: Measure and Cut
First, lay your longest key and pencil sharpener on your material of choice. In my case I used walnut but plastic and metal would also work. Your marks don't need to be perfect because we can always refine the shape in the later steps.
The goal here is to get a rough idea of where we need to cut our material and it's always a good idea to cut it larger than what you think you need. You can always remove material but it's much harder to add material.
In my case I used a bandsaw to cut my wood. You need two pieces of the same size. One will be the top and the other will be the bottom.
Step 2: Sharpen Your Skills
This step can be a tad tricky but certainly doable if you're focused and take your time.
Trace the perimeter of the pencil sharpener on the wood. We need to cut out a section in order for it to sit in. Remember the pencil shavings have to go somewhere so we simply can't sandwich the sharpener between the pieces of wood.
You're looking for nice snug fit here but don't worry if you have some small gaps. The epoxy will fill this in.
Step 3: Cut a Wedge
If your pencil sharper has parallel sides then you can skip this step.
Mine is tapered so I had to cut a wedge from a spare block to fill the gap.
Step 4: Try Not to Get Sticky
Let's start assembling pieces!
Lay out a small amount of 5 minute epoxy and be sure to mix it thoroughly. Spread the epoxy on the inside of the notch we cut out for the pencil sharpener. You can use a scrap piece of wood or a toothpick to do this.
Carefully slide the pencil sharpener in place without squeezing out too much epoxy.
Since we have the epoxy mixed up, let's also glue on the wedge and secure it all with tape so it dries in the position we want it to.
Step 5: While That's Drying...
While the epoxy dries, let's drill some holes in our keys. You can always use the holes that are already on your keys but I wanted a slimmer profile so I decided to remove the head of my keys and drill a new hole.
Make sure to drill these holes according the pin you're using. For my pin, I used a section of a wire coat hanger. Alternatively, you can use a nut and bolt instead of a pin.
Make sure you drill your hole in a location that allows the shoulder of the key to be exposed when the key is rotated out for use. The shoulder is the part that flares out between the teeth and head of the key.
Step 6: Drill Through the Wood
Now you can set your keys onto your wood and mark the location of where you want your keys to rotate from.
Make sure to drill the holes all the way through the wood and in both the top and bottom pieces.
Step 7: Assembly
Time to put everything together.
Mix up some more epoxy and insert it in the holes you just drilled through the wood. It's easiest to put your pin through the keys and then insert it into the wood. While doing this, make sure that epoxy doesn't get on the keys. If any does, you can use a damp rag to clean it off.
Next apply some wood glue onto the wedge and attach the top wood piece.
I had a small gap between my wedge and top piece so I cut another wedge to fill that gap and glued it in place with wood glue.
Once that's all done, clamp it in place and allow the glue to dry. This usually takes about an hour but varies depending on your environment.
Step 8: Start Sculpting
This is the most fun part of this project. Once the glue dries you can snip off the extra pin material with wire cutters.
Now we can use a pencil to draw our desired shape on the wood. If your pencil is dull, this is a great opportunity to test out the pencil sharpener.
Let's head on over the bandsaw and start cutting out shape. In my case my keys are brass and aluminum so I didn't have an issue using a wood cutting blade to cut through the heads of the keys. Brass and aluminum are both very soft metals that they shouldn't damage the blade.
Step 9: Sand and Finish
If you have a sharp blade on your saw then you shouldn't have too much clean up to do. That wan't my case. I used various grits of sandpaper to get a nice smooth finish.
Then I used danish oil to protect the wood and applied it with a foam brush. A rag would also work great here. Since this is something that is often handled, it's a good idea to use a light oil finish like you would use on handsaw or hammer handle.
DO NOT THROW AWAY THE RAG OR BRUSH YOU USED TO APPLY THE OIL. Lay it out flat on a nonflammable surface like concrete and allow it to dry. The oil heats up as its drying and catch the brush or rag on fire if it's all bunched up in a tight space. Once the oil drys, it's safe to toss it in the trash.
Step 10: Show Off Your New Keys!
That's it! You're all done.
Make sure you test your keys so you can back into your house and then go show them off to your friends.
Like mentioned in the intro, this is a fun and simple project that can be completed in an afternoon.
You can also find me on Youtube and follow along in the video above.
Instagram to see what I'm currently working on
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